faculty research

No means no: SMU study shows that teen girls report less sexual victimization after virtual-reality assertiveness training

Stock photo of two people holding handsTeen girls were less likely to report being sexually victimized after learning to assertively resist unwanted sexual overtures and practicing resistance in a realistic virtual environment, according to a new SMU-led study.

The effects persisted over a three-month period following the training, says clinical psychologist Lorelei Simpson Rowe, lead author on the pilot study and an associate professor of psychology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The research also found that those girls who had previously experienced dating violence reported lower levels of psychological aggression and psychological distress after completing the program, relative to girls in a comparison group.

“The virtual simulations allowed girls to practice being assertive in a realistic environment. The intent of the program is for the learning opportunity to increase the likelihood that they will use the skills in real life,” said Simpson Rowe, who also serves as graduate program co-director in the Department of Psychology. “Research has shown that skills are more likely to generalize if they are practiced in a realistic environment, so we used virtual reality to increase the realism.”

The training program, called “My Voice, My Choice,” emphasizes that victims do not invite sexual violence and that they have the right to stand up for themselves because violent or coercive behavior is never OK.

“It is very promising that learning resistance skills and practicing them in virtual simulations of coercive interactions could reduce the risk for later sexual victimization,” said Simpson Rowe.

She cautioned, however, that the research is preliminary and based on a small sample: 42 in the “My Voice, My Choice” condition and 36 in a control condition. Future research is needed to establish the benefits of the program across different age groups and populations, for example, college versus high school students.

The study’s strengths included its randomized controlled design and a high participant retention rate among the 78 teen girls in the study.

The virtual-reality simulation component of “My Voice, My Choice” utilizes a software program developed by study co-authors Ernest N. Jouriles and Renee McDonald in conjunction with the game design program in The Guildhall at SMU. Jouriles and McDonald are clinical psychologists in the SMU Psychology Department. Jouriles is professor and chair. McDonald is a professor and associate dean of research and academic affairs in Dedman College.

“One advantage the virtual simulations offer is the ability to actually observe whether, and how, the girls are using the skills in coercive situations that feel very real,” McDonald said. “This provides girls with opportunities for immediate feedback and accelerated learning, and for facilitators to easily spot areas in need of further strengthening. The value of this advantage can’t be overstated.”

One question that remains for future research is whether the practice in virtual simulations was the operative factor that reduced sexual victimization, Simpson Rowe said.

“We need to determine if practice in a virtual setting is the key factor in making the intervention effective, or if other factors, such as being encouraged to stand up for themselves, led to the outcomes,” she said.

The researchers reported their findings, “Reducing Sexual Victimization among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice,” in the journal Behavior Therapy. The article has been published online in advance of print.

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

Calendar Highlights, Feb. 4, 2015

Photograph taken at SMU Meadows Susannah recital

Photograph taken at SMU Meadows Opera Theatre rehearsal for upcoming production Susannah.

Meadows Opera Theatre: The award-winning Meadows Opera Theatre, directed by Hank Hammett, presents the two-act opera SusannahTickets are $7 for students, faculty and staff and are available for purchase online. The production will run from Thursday, Feb. 5 through Sunday, Feb. 8, in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center. For more information, call 214-768-2787.

Clements Center Senior Fellow Lecture: Lead by Clements Center Research Senior Fellow Rachel St. John, the Annual Clements Center Senior Fellow Lecture will explore “Unmanifest America: The Unstable Borders of 19th-Century North America & the Strange Career of William Gwin.St. John will present her research on William Gwin, the once prominent speculator and politician who attempted to expand the boundaries of the Untied States during the 19th century. The lecture will begin at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 5, in McCord Auditorium. Although this event is free and open to the public, seating is limited and guests are encouraged to register online. For more information, call 214-768-3684.

Faith Colloquium: The Bolin Family 2015 Public Life|Personal Faith Colloquium presents former While House Chief of Staff Andrew and his wife, the Rev. Kathleen Card. Sponsored by the SMU Perkins School of Theoogy, the event will take place on Friday, Feb. 6. The informal Q&A-style Colloquium, free and open to the public, will be from 10-11 a.m. in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall, 5901 Bishop Boulevard. For more information, visit Perkin’s Public Life|Personal Faith webpage. 

Meadows Museum Symposium: Co-organized by the Meadows Museum and Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, the Meadows Museum Symposium presents “Curating Goya,” Saturday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m., in the Bob Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum.  Curators of recent and upcoming shows on Francisco Goya will discuss how different approaches to exhibiting Goya’s work invite new paths for understanding his art. While this is a free event with no registration required, seating will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, call 214-768-4677.

Marine

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Brass Quintet.

U.S. Marine Band Brass Quintet: Presented by the Meadows School of the Arts“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Brass Quintet from Washington D.C., will give a free concert at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10 in Caruth Auditorium. As America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization, the quintet’s mission is to perform for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps. For more information, call the Meadows School Division of Music at 214-768-1951.

Faculty in the News: January 2015

Ben Voth

Ben Both, Director of Debate & Associate Professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

Andrea Meltzer, Psychology, Dedman School of Humanities and Sciences, was featured on the Science Codex for her self-image research. Meltzer conducted three independent studies, resulting in the conclusion that woman’s body image is strongly linked to their perception of what they believe men prefer. The Science Codex article appeared on Jan. 13, 2015.

Ben Voth, director of debate and associate professor, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts, published a KERA article entitled “What ‘The Great Debater’ James Farmer Can Teach Us Today,” in which he explored the role of Texas native James Farmer Jr. and his contribution to the American civil rights movement. The article was published on Jan. 12, 2015.

Jonathan Norton, Pony Express(ions) Stay Play Editor, Meadows School of the Arts, was listed as No. 20 in a recent Dallas Observer article exploring “100 Dallas Creatives.” The article appeared on Jan. 9, 2015.

Heather DeShon, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was featured in a NBC National News video exploring if earthquakes are becoming a new trend in Texas. The video aired on Jan. 8, 2015.

Heather DeShon

Heather DeShon, Geophysics Associate Professor, Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences

Brian Stump, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was featured in a National Geographic article examining the causes of the recent North Texas earthquakes. The article was published on Jan. 7, 2015.

Bernard Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, provided commentary on a National Journal article discussing low gas prices and a possible federal gas tax hike. The article was published on Jan. 5, 2015.

Chuck Dannis, Real Estate, Risk Management and Business Law, Cox School of Business, was published in D Magazine‘s article “Disrupting Estate Coverage in Dallas” in an exclusive section entitled “The Future of Real Estate (the Good  and the Bad).”

 

SMU-record 14 professors receive 2014-15 Sam Taylor Fellowships

UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry logoFourteen SMU faculty members – a University-record number – have received 2014-15 Sam Taylor Fellowships from the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Fellowships, funded by income from a portion of Taylor’s estate, award up to $2,000 for full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Any full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for the Fellowships, which support research “advancing the intellectual, social or religious life of Texas and the nation.”

Applications are evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, value of the project to the community or nation, and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.

The winning professors for this academic year, and their projects:

Edward Countryman, History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, for research at the Canadian National Archives for his book on Joseph Brant and colonial America.

Johan Elverskog, Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, to work in the Getty Museum’s archives for his book on the history of Buddhist influence in art.

Kathleen Gallagher, Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship, Meadows School of the Arts, to conduct interviews in Puerto Rico regarding non-profit organization life cycles.

Adam Herring, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, to include color plates in his monograph on Inca artworks.

Peter Kupfer, Music History, Meadows School of the Arts, to survey how viewers understand cultural meanings of classical music used in advertising.

Rita Linjuan Men, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts, to collect survey data for analysis of transparency in organizations’ social media communications.

Rebekah Miles, Perkins School of Theology, for archival research and interviews regarding Ursula Niebuhr’s works.

Brian Molanphy, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, to support his Spring 2015 artist residency at l’Ecole de céramique de Provence in France.

Lisa Pon, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, for inclusion of illustrations in her forthcoming book.

Christopher Roos, Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, to support collaborative research in Tasmania.

Brett Story, Environmental and Civil Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, for load-testing materials to study collapse resistance in buildings.

Peng Tao, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, for software to study protein-folding and unfolded protein response.

Jenia Turner, Dedman School of Law, to survey prosecutors and defense attorneys nationally regarding the U.S. criminal justice system.

Hye Jin Yoon, Temerlin Advertising Institute, Meadows School of the Arts, for a survey regarding efficacy of advertising appeals to individualism versus collectivism.

SMU seismologist Brian Stump named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Brian W. Stump, Albritton Professor of Geological Sciences and AAAS Fellow, SMUSMU seismologist Brian Stump has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Stump, Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College, is the fifth SMU professor to be recognized as an AAAS Fellow.

> Learn about Dr. Stump’s work at the SMU Research blog

“Dr. Stump is a scientist of the first rank and brings the results of his outstanding research into the classroom, where his students benefit from his example and insights as a scholar,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He richly deserves the AAAS recognition by his peers and we are proud that he calls SMU home.”

“Brian’s work has been seminal in scientists’ ability to rapidly and accurately discern the difference between an earthquake, a conventional explosion (such as might occur in a mining accident) and a nuclear test,” said James Quick, SMU vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. “His research is tremendously important to all of us, and yet he is equally committed to teaching and serving as a mentor to young faculty.”

> SMU News: SMU-UT study shows “plausible” connection between DFW quakes and saltwater injection well

Stump is well known regionally for his continued work researching the increase of small earthquakes that have been occurring in North Texas since 2008. But his work in detecting ground motion from explosions has for more than 20 years proved invaluable to the United States government in ensuring that the world’s nuclear powers abide by their agreements related to underground nuclear testing. He served as scientific adviser to the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Disarmament from 1994 through 1996 and continues to be called upon frequently to assist the U.S. government in the interpretation of seismic and acoustic data.

“I’m humbled by the recognition by the AAAS that science impacts the society in which we live,” Stump said. “I really believe that. And the work we’ve done at SMU on inducted seismicity in North Texas has that same blend of real science and societal impact.”

> Brian Stump on CBS-11 News: Report looks at drilling wastewater and North Texas earthquakes

For the last five years Stump has chaired the Air Force Technical Applications Center Seismic Review Panel, which provides a review of federally funded efforts in nuclear monitoring. He served as a committee member on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Seismology and Continental Dynamics from 2007 through 2012, and recently completed a term as board chair for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of more than 100 universities funded by the National Science Foundation.

Stump joined SMU in 1983 from the Seismology Section of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. He graduated summa cum laude from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon with a bachelor of arts in physics in 1974, received a master of arts from the University of California-Berkeley in 1975 and received his Ph.D. in geophysics from UC-Berkeley in 1979 after completing a thesis titled Investigation of Seismic Sources by the Linear Inversion of Seismograms.

SMU faculty previously named as AAAS Fellows:

  • Volcanologist and research dean James Quick, who was named a Fellow in 2013
  • Environmental biochemistry scholar Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 2003
  • Anthropologist David Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology who was named a Fellow in 1998
  • James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 1966.

The AAAS Fellows program began in 1874. AAAS members may be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering group of their respective sections, by three Fellows, or by the association’s chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and forwards a final list to the AAAS Council, which votes on the final list of Fellows.

> Read more from SMU News

Research: Blue-light blues – SMU study shows how artificial lighting can interfere with health, sleep, even animal migration

A NASA image of Earth’s city lights using data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

An image of Earth’s city lights using data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. (Credit: NASA)

An SMU study funded by the National Institutes of Health is unraveling the mystery of how blue light from residential and commercial lighting, electronic devices and outdoor lights can interfere with the natural body clocks of humans, plants and animals – and the negative consequences it can bring.

Exposure to blue light is on the increase, says SMU chemist Brian Zoltowski, who leads the study, “Protein : Protein interaction networks in the circadian clock.”

At the right time of day, blue light is a good thing. It talks to our 24-hour circadian clock, telling our bodies, for example, when to wake up, eat and carry out specific metabolic functions. In plants, blue light signals them to leaf out, grow, blossom and bloom. In animals, it aids migratory patterns, sleep and wake cycles, regulation of metabolism, as well as mood and the immune system.

But too much blue light — especially at the wrong time — throws biological signaling out of whack.

“As a society, we are using more technology, and there’s increasing evidence that artificial light has had a negative consequence on our health,” said Zoltowski, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

“Our study uses physical techniques and chemical approaches to probe an inherently biological problem,” he said. “We want to understand the chemical basis for how organisms use light as an environmental cue to regulate growth and development.”

SMU Assistant Professor of Chemistry Brian Zoltowski

SMU Assistant Professor of Chemistry Brian Zoltowski

Zoltowski’s lab was awarded $320,500 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to continue its research on the impact of blue light. They are studying a small flowering plant native to Europe and Asia, Arabidopsis thaliana – a popular model organism in plant biology and genetics, Zoltowski says.

Although signaling pathways differ in organisms such as Arabidopsis when compared to animals, the flower still serves an important research purpose. How the signaling networks are interconnected is similar in both animals and Arabidopsis. That allows researchers to use simpler genetic models to provide insight into how similar networks are controlled in more complicated species like humans.

In humans, the protein melanopsin absorbs blue light and sends signals to photoreceptor cells in our eyes. In plants and animals, the protein cryptochrome performs similar signaling.

Much is known already about the way blue light and other light wavelengths, such as red and UV light, trigger biological functions through proteins that interact with our circadian clock. But the exact mechanism in that chemical signaling process remains a mystery.

“Light is energy, and that energy can be absorbed by melanopsin proteins that act as a switch that basically activates everything downstream,” Zoltowski said.

Melanopsin is a little-understood photoreceptor protein with the singular job of measuring time of day. When light enters the eye, melanopsin proteins within unique cells in the retina absorb the wavelength as a photon and convert it to energy. That activates cells found only in the eye — called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglian cells, of which there are only about 160 in our body. The cells signal the suprachiasmatic nucleus region of the brain.

“We keep a master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus — it controls our circadian rhythms,” he said. “But we also have other time pieces in our body; think of them as watches, and they keep getting reset by the blue light that strikes the master clock, generating chemical signals.”

The switch activates many biological functions, including metabolism, sleep, cancer development, drug addiction and mood disorders, to name a few.

“There’s a very small molecule that absorbs the light, acting like a spring, pushing out the protein and changing its shape, sending the signal. We want to understand the energy absorption by the small molecule and what that does biologically.”

The answer can lead to new ways to target diabetes, sleep disorders and cancer development, for example.

“If we understand how all these pathways work,” he said, “we can design newer, better, more efficacious drugs to help people.”

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

Calendar Highlights: Nov. 12, 2014

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828). Los Caprichos. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Meadows Museum, SMU. 

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828). Los Caprichos. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Meadows Museum, SMU.

Museum Thursday Lecture: Meadows Museum presents “Battlefields to Bullrings: Violence in Goya’s Work on Paper” Thursday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m., in the Bob Smith Auditorium. The lecture will feature Edward Payne, as he draws upon works in the exhibition Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention to investigate the intersections between graphic arts in Goya’s violent imagery. For more information, call 214.768.4677.

Gilbert Lecture Series: Dedman College’s Gilbert Lecture Series presents “The Making of Jane Austen” Thursday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m., in Dallas Hall, Room 306. Professor Devoney Looser of Arizona State University will present her research on the reception of Austen from the late 19th century forward. For more information, please visit the Dedman events webpage.

Pigskin Revue: The 81st edition of Pigskin Revue features SMU students in music, dance and comedy acts, with the SMU Mustang Band playing new music as well as old favorites from past revues. The event will take place Friday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m., in McFarlin Auditorium. For more information, email Pigskin Revue or contact the band office at 214-768-2263 (214-SMU-BAND).

Meadows Wind Ensemble: The Meadows Wind Ensemble welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom for a celebration of his music. The performance will take place Friday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 for students, faculty and staff and can be reserved online here. For more information, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Chamber Music Late Night Concert: Meadows School invited audience members to hear a short program of varied chamber music in the Taubman Atrium following the Meadows Wind Ensemble concert on Friday, Nov. 14, at 10 p.m.. For more information, follow @SMUChamberMusic on Twitter or call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.32.30 PM

SMU Homecoming 2013

Homecoming Parade: SMU alumnus Brian Baumgartner ’95 will lead the traditional Homecoming parade featuring iconic duos such as Batman and Robin, Mickey and Minnie, and Clark Kent and Lois Lane on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4:30 p.m. Beginning at SMU Boulevard and Bush Avenue, the parade includes student floats as well as band and entertainment. For more information, visit the SMU Homecoming 2014 webpage.

Homecoming Football Game: Following the Homecoming parade and celebrations on The Boulevard, the SMU cheerleaders and Mustang Band will lead fans to Ford Stadium to watch SMU Football play UCF. The game will take place Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in Ford Stadium. For more information, visit the SMU Mustangs homepage.

Drawing from the Masters: Meadows Museum hosts Drawing from the Masters. Providing an opportunity to explore a variety of drawing techniques, guest artist Ian O’Brien will lead participants through the Meadows Museum’s galleries. Attendance is limited to 20 and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Drawing materials will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own sketchpads and pencils. The activity will take place Sunday, Nov. 16, at :30 p.m. in the Meadows Museum. For more information, email Carmen Smith or call 214-768-4677.

Black Radical Imagination Screening: In conjunction with the national Facing Race Conference to be held in Dallas Nov. 13-15, this screening is presented by the Meadows School of the Arts. Black Radical Imagination is a touring program of seven short films that delve into the worlds of new media, video art and experimental narrative. The screening will take place Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. in the Dallas Museum of Art For more information, call 214-768-1222.

Meadows Guitar Ensemble: SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts presents the Meadows Guitar Ensemble as they perform a program of guitar quartets and duos Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium. The performance will include works from the Baroque era to the present day from Italy, Spain and the New World. For more information, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

SMU’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education names Leanne Ketterlin-Geller director of K-12 STEM Initiatives

Leanne Ketterlin-GellerSMU’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education has named Associate Professor Leanne Ketterlin-Geller as its new director of K-12 STEM Initiatives.

A faculty member in education policy and leadership and director of research in mathematics education in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Ketterlin-Geller will bring a cross-disciplinary focus to her new role with the Institute, housed in the University’s Lyle School of Engineering.

Ketterlin-Geller is an expert in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, and her research focuses on mathematics education through instructional leadership principles and practices. Her new position will include working with the Caruth Institute’s Infinity Project, developing partnerships with area schools, working with Lyle engineering programs geared toward middle and high school students, and working with departments and faculty members to match their engineering expertise to K-12 outreach opportunities.

Ketterlin-Geller will work closely with Delores Etter, executive director of the Caruth Institute and TI Distinguished Chair in Engineering Education, as well as other faculty members from both schools to advance the K-12 STEM initiatives of the Institute.

“Professor Ketterlin-Geller’s extensive experience as a leader in STEM and K-12 education will bring much needed expertise in addressing the critical mission of the Caruth Institute,” Etter said. “Her role within the Simmons School of Education and Human Development will strengthen the necessary collaboration between our two schools.”

“The work that Dr. Ketterlin-Geller will direct is essential to our goal to increase the number and diversity of students with both the enthusiasm and knowledge to pursue the engineering careers that are necessary for the U.S. to compete in a global economy,” said Lyle Dean Marc Christensen. “This appointment demonstrates our commitment to the emerging collaborations between the Simmons School of Education and the Lyle School of Engineering. We look forward to what we can achieve together.”

“Through these Caruth Institute initiatives students will see the power of math in daily life – and engineering is where we really see this at work,” said Ketterlin-Geller. “We hope to develop engaging and interesting programs for both teachers and students that will help all students develop both confidence and competence in STEM fields. This collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to work across disciplines to help foster innovation in K-12 STEM education.”

A former high school science teacher, Ketterlin-Geller has served as principal investigator for federal, state, and locally funded research grants emphasizing the development of instructional materials and formative assessment procedures in mathematics. Much of her research is focused on supporting algebra readiness in elementary and middle school mathematics. She works closely with teachers and administrators to understand the application of measurement and assessment principles for making decisions in school settings. She publishes and delivers presentations on mathematics education, measurement and assessment as well as special education.

Ketterlin-Geller and Simmons School Dean David Chard are part of the national research team working on the George W. Bush Institute’s education initiative, Middle School Matters.

> Read the full story from SMU News

Research: Learning algebra from Instagram

Stock photo of a student working a math problem on a blackboardCan students learn algebra from Instagram and video games?

SMU teaching researcher Candace Walkington thinks so. And her new study, funded by the National Academy of Education, will test the idea.

“In previous work, I found that students draw upon rich algebraic ways of reasoning when pursuing their out-of-school interests in areas like sports, social networking and video games,” says Walkington, an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “Making connections to these topics in algebra class can improve long-term understanding of algebraic ideas.”

The new study asks pre-algebra middle school students in the Dallas Independent School District to author their own algebra stories based on their personal interests. They will describe how linear relationships approximate what they encounter in their everyday lives, such as how they accumulate followers on Instagram or score points in a video game over time, says Walkington, whose research focus is evidence-based effective teaching. About 200 pre-algebra students in eight classrooms at DISD schools are participating in the study.

Based on results from earlier research, Walkington hypothesizes that authoring the stories will elicit students’ interest in the content to be learned by drawing on their knowledge about home and community.

Algebra is a gatekeeper to many careers and to higher-level mathematics, making it critical for students to master, Walkington says – but students struggle to understand the abstract representations.

“Students often can’t see the connection between their world and algebra,” she says. “Exploring ways to connect math to their lives, experiences and knowledge is critical for making it accessible and captivating. That’s especially true when considering students from diverse backgrounds.”

A pilot version of the study begins in spring 2015. The full study starts in fall 2015.

Walkington was awarded the grant as part of the Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of the National Academy of Education. The $55,000 grant supports early career scholars working in critical areas of education research.

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

Faculty in the News: Oct. 7-20, 2014

George Holden, SMU Professor of Psychology

George Holden, SMU professor of psychology

George Holden, Psychology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was featured in The Christian Science Monitor in an article examining corporal punishment. The article appeared on Oct. 20, 2014.

Bernard Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, published a news article regarding Canada’s recent increase in oil exports to the Star-Telegram. The article appeared Oct. 16, 2014.

Benjamin Phrampus, Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, discussed the possible relation of gas explosions and the Bermuda Triangle with LifeScience. The article appeared on Oct. 14, 2014.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, provided commentary for The New York Times in an article entitled “An Ad With a Wheelchair Shakes Up the Texas Governor’s Race.” The article appeared Oct. 13, 2014.

Bruce Bullock, Director of the Maguire Energy Institute, SMU

Bruce Bullock, director of SMU’s Maguire Energy Institute

Will Power, Theatre Artist-in-Residence, Meadows School of the Arts, received 11 AUDELCO nominations for his production Fetch Clay, Make Man. As part of the New York Theatre Workshop, Power’s production tells the story of Cassius Clay as the heavyweight boxing champion forms an unlikely friendship during the days leading up to one his most anticipated fights. News of Power’s nominations were features on Backstage Pass with Lia Chang on Oct. 12, 2014.

Bruce Bullock, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, was featured in an article in The New York Times discussing the technology of liquid gas. The article was published on Oct. 7, 2014.

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